Mumbai, July 08 (KMS): As a mark of protest, ten accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case went on a one-day hunger strike in the Taloja jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai after the death of co-accused Jesuit priest Stan Swamy in a Mumbai hospital on Monday.
Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe are the names of jailed accused who went on one-day fast in the Taloja jail.
They termed the death of Stan Swamy as an “institutional murder” and demanded action against officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is conducting a probe into the Elgar Parishad case, and former superintendent of the Taloja jail.
Arrested by the NIA from Ranchi in October 2020 under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and lodged at the Taloja Central Jail , Fr Stan Swamy suffered a cardiac arrest and died on Monday in the middle of his fight for bail on health grounds.
The other accused in the case termed Swamy’s death an “institutional murder” and held the “negligent jails, indifferent courts and malicious investigating agencies” responsible for it, according to the report.
The Elgar Parishad case is related to ‘inflammatory speeches’ made at a conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which, the police claimed, triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the outskirts of Mumbai.
The police had claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links.
The co-accused informed about the protest to their family members, who released a statement saying all Elgar case prisoners have blamed the NIA and the Taloja jail’s former superintendent Kaustubh Kurlekar for the death of Father Stan Swamy.
They believe that “the separation of Stan Swamy from them is a deliberate institutional murder,” the release said.
The statement alleged that the NIA and Kurlekar never missed a single opportunity to “harass” Stan Swamy, whether it was the “ghastly treatment” inside the jail, the haste to transfer him back from hospital to jail or even protesting against trivial things like a sipper (which Swamy required due to his medical conditions).
“It is these things that have caused the death of Stan Swamy and therefore, for this institutional murder, NIA officials and Kurlekar should be tried under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code,” the statement said, while demanding a judicial inquiry into his death.
The statement said the family members of the accused will submit these demands to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray through the Taloja jail administration.